Athletics and stadium officials unveiled the first county signs this afternoon that will line the stadium’s brick walls. Each of Minnesota’s 87 counties will have one of the 6500-pound cast stone signs displayed in its name.
Pope, Ramsey, Red Lake, Redwood and Renville county signs were uncovered and displayed at the event.
The county signs pay homage to citizens’ contributions to the stadium and represent the concept of the stadium being a statewide facility, Athletics Director Joel Maturi said.
“Today we are here to honor all 87 of our counties,” he said.
The state is responsible for paying $137.2 million of the stadium’s $288.5 total cost, according to the stadium’s finance plan.
Gophers sophomore quarterback Adam Weber, who graduated from Mounds View High School, said the Ramsey County sign means a lot to him.
“(The signs) add so much more to the stadium,” he said – a touch which Weber said might turn into more contributions from fans and citizens.
All of the signs are expected to be installed by March 2009, four months before the stadium’s planned completion date.
In other stadium news…
Athletics officials also announced that details of the upcoming grassroots fundraising campaign for the stadium.
The campaign consists of a stop in each Minnesota county over the next 15 months, Maturi said.
The University has collected $77 million of its $88 million fundraising goal, and the grassroots campaign is expected to put the University beyond that target, Associate Athletics Director Phil Esten said.
Although it will aid the stadium financially, another goal of the statewide tour is to “rekindle” some of the fire which has been lost in the University’s relationship with the state, Maturi said.
The first stop on the statewide tour will be June 3 in Ramsey County, when Gophers head football coach Tim Brewster and others make an appearance at a St. Paul Dairy Queen.